Works on the Tractatus

This page contains information about works that discuss Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logicophilosophicus

Pitcher, George, The Philosophy of Wittgenstein: an Aid to the Understanding and Interpretation of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and The Philosophical Investigations, Eaglewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall 1964.
Book Information:
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 0136644589
ISBN-13: 978-0136644583
Brief Discussion:
One of the first detailed studies of both the earlier and the later philosophy, notable for its refusal to treat the “objectsʼ of the Tractatus as sense-data and adopting the unusual view that private sensations as portrayed in the Investigations play no role in the language-game. This book helped to set the terms of the ongoing debate on Private Language in Pitcherʼs later edited collection of essays: Wittgenstein The Philosophical Investigations A Collection of Critical Essays, with its host of famous contributors.

Preston, John M., ‘Harré on Hertz and the Tractatus’, Philosophy, vol.81, 2006, pp.357-64.
Brief Description
Rom Harré (in ‘Wittgenstein: Science and Religion’, Philosophy, vol.76, 2001, 211-37), has claimed that the influence of Heinrich Hertz on Wittgenstein was stronger and deeper than previously acknowledged. I challenge Harré’s readings of both Hertz and the Tractatus. I try to set the record straight on issues such as the extent to which Wittgenstein took over a picture theory of meaning from Hertz, the nature of Hertz’s and of Wittgenstein’s simple objects, and the relation between phase-spaces and truth-tables.

Preston, John M., ‘Janik on Hertz and the early Wittgenstein’, Grazer Philosophische Studien, vol.73, 2006, pp.83-95.
Brief Description
Allan Janik (in ‘How did Hertz Influence Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Development?’, Graz Philosophical Studies, vol.49, 1994-5, pp.19-47) has claimed that the influence of Heinrich Hertz on Wittgenstein was stronger, deeper, and more abiding than previously acknowledged. I take issue here mainly with Janik’s interpretation of Hertz. I try to set the record straight on issues such as the three criteria Hertz suggests for evaluating scientific ‘representations’ [Darstellungen] or ‘images’ [Bilder], his conception of philosophy, the nature of Hertz’s project and its relation to philosophy, the extent to which he agrees and disagrees with Ernst Mach, and his influence on the Tractatus.

Preston, John M., ‘Hertz, Wittgenstein, and Philosophical Method’, Philosophical Investigations, vol.31, no.1, 2008, pp.48-67.
Brief Description
Claims that Hertz influenced Wittgenstein’s Tractatus are long-standing and familiar. A different and notable recent claim (suggested by Gordon Baker, for example) is that Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophical method, especially that contained in his later works, was influenced by Hertz. If this meant only that Wittgenstein got ideas about method from reading Hertz there could be no complaint. But the claims of influence are stronger than this, since they amount to the idea that that Wittgenstein took over a conception of philosophical method which Hertz was already using in his book The Principles of Mechanics. I critically evaluate this idea.

Moyal-Sharrock, Danièle 'The Good Sense of Nonsense: A Reading of Wittgenstein's Tractatus as Nonself-repudiating ', Philosophy, 82:1 (January 2007), 147-77.
Brief Description
This paper aims to return Wittgenstein's Tractatus to its original stature by showing that it is not the self-repudiating work commentators take it to be, but the consistent masterpiece its author believed it was at the time he wrote it. The Tractatus has been considered self-repudiating for two reasons: it refers to its own propositions as 'nonsensical', and it makes what Peter Hacker calls 'paradoxical ineffability claims' – that is, its remarks are themselves instances of what it says cannot be said. I address the first problem by showing that, on Wittgenstein's view, nonsense is primarily a technically descriptive, not a defamatory, qualification, and is not indicative of Wittgenstein rejecting or disavowing his own Tractarian 'propositions'. I then dissolve the paradoxical ineffability claim by making a technical distinction, based on Wittgenstein's own theory and practice, between saying and speaking.

Hutto, Daniel D., "Misreadings, Clarifications and Reminders: Reply to Read and Hutchinson". International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 14(4) 561–567.
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Brief Description
This is a reply to Hutchinson, P. and Read, R. "An Elucidatory Interpretation of Wittgenstein's Tractatus: Critique of Daniel D. Hutto's and Marie McGinn's Reading of Tractatus 6.54". International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14(1) 2006: 1-29. A further reply from Hutchinson, P."Unsinnig: A Reply to Hutto" is also forthcoming.

Hutto, Daniel D., "Making More Sense of Nonsense: From Logical Form to Forms of Life" in Post-Analytic Tractatus. Stocker, B. (ed.) Ashgate 2004: 127-149.
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Hutto discusses various interpretations of the problem of making sense of the use of nonsense in the Tractatus. He discusses among others Cora Diamond: 'Diamond is right in that to think that Wittgenstein was suggesting that there could not be ethical ‘doctrines’ or ‘propositions’. However, what we should not lose sight of is that her reading also rules out a more sophisticated understanding of the ethical remarks – one which makes sense of Wittgenstein’s evolving conception of language.' And he concludes: 'When we consider the links and breaks between the early and later writings, it becomes clear that it is a mistake to think that all that is regarded as nonsensical in the Tractatus can be treated alike. As Reid puts it, in this light we can see, ‘…a strong warning from the perspective of his later thought that the frame of the Tractatus is not the expression of a clear grasp on the part of the author of the Tractatus of what it is to label some use of language “nonsense”…’. Moreover, the very fact that Wittgenstein was prepared to allow for the existence of profound forms of nonsense in his early work, despite being unable to incorporate this idea seamlessly into his thinking, is vital to an understanding of the man, what he found important and how his thinking progressed.'

Rudd, Anthony, 'Logic and Ethics as Limits of the World' in Post-Analytic
, ed B. Stocker (Ashgate, London, 2004) 47-57.
Brief Description
I argue that, to make sense of the crucial notion of "showing" or "making manifest" in the "Tractatus", we need to recognise more fully than is usual, the influence of Schopenhauer on the work. The "Tractatus" accepts the distinction between the world "as will", and "as representation", that is central to Schopenhauer's metaphysics, though it gives a logico-linguistic, rather than an epistemological, account of representation.

Goldstein, Laurence, 'How Original a Work is the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus?', Philosophy 77 (2002), pp.421-446.
[Russian version at]
Brief Discussion
This article responds to a Swansea philosopher’s mean-spirited criticism of my play (1999) fancifully re-creating Wittgenstein’s 1929 Ph.D. viva. But, more importantly, the paper develops seriously the claim playfully suggested in the play, that chunks of the Tractatus, and some of the theses commonly thought to be original to that work, are taken, without any acknowledgment, from the writings of Bolzano, Schopenhauer and Russell. It is true that, in the Preface, Wittgenstein says that it is a matter of indifference to him whether some of his ideas come from others. But his example is one that present-day students submitting their doctoral dissertations would be well advised not to follow if they want to avoid falling foul of regulations governing plagiarism.
Wittgenstein's Tractatus is widely regarded as a masterpiece, a brilliant, if flawed attempt to achieve an ‘unassailable and definitive … final solution’ to a wide range of philosophical problems. Yet, in a 1931 notebook, Wittgenstein confesses: ‘I think there is some truth in my idea that I am really only reproductive in my thinking. I think I have never invented a line of thinking but that it was always provided for me by someone else’. This disarming self-assessment is, I believe accurate. The Tractatus, despite making significant advances on the logical doctrines of Frege and Russell, is essentially a derivative work—Wittgenstein, as he elsewhere acknowledges, provided a fertile soil in which the original seeds of other peoples’ thought grew in a unique way. In a play of mine, published in Philosophy (1999), Wittgenstein fails a tough viva on the Tractatus because he fails to properly support some of the weak arguments in the work and because of his inadequate acknowledgment of sources. The present paper further explores some of the antecedents of Wittgenstein's early views and answers some criticisms of the play.

Phillips, Dawn M., ‘Complete Analysis and Clarificatory Analysis in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus’ in Michael Beaney (ed.), The Analytic Turn: Analysis in Early Analytic Philosophy and Phenomenology, London: Routledge, 2007, pp.164-177.
Brief Description:
I examine the relationship between complete analysis and clarificatory analysis in the Tractatus and explain why Wittgenstein thought he required both in his account of how to solve the problems of philosophy. In Section 2, I describe Wittgenstein’s view of how philosophical confusions arise; by explaining how it is possible to misunderstand the logic of everyday language. In Section 3, I argue that any method of logical analysis in the Tractatus will inevitably be circular, but explain why this does not threaten the prospect of solving philosophical problems. In Section 4, I distinguish between complete and clarificatory analysis and argue that Wittgenstein’s ‘strictly correct’ philosophical method is clarificatory analysis. In Section 5, I discuss the relationship between the two forms of analysis and claim that, although, at the time of writing the Tractatus, Wittgenstein believed that the possibility of complete analysis underpins clarificatory analysis, in fact this was a mistake. In the Philosophical Investigations complete analysis is rejected and clarificatory analysis is retained.
Keywords (Tags): Tractatus; analysis; clarification; philosophical-problems, philosophical-method

Berber, Natan. "The Logical Basis of the Tractarian Ontology", Axiomathes, 17 (2007): 185-96.
This paper focuses on the relation between logic and ontology. In particular, it demonstrates how classical logical theory can clarify the ontological part of Ludwig Wittgenstein's *Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus*. To this end, the work examines the adequacy of a formal system that was devised by the Polish logician, mathematician and philosopher Roman Suszko (1919-1979) as a model for the *Tractatus*. Following a brief explanation of the Tractarian ontology, the main ideas of Suszko's system and its philosophical significance will be considered. The latter will be illustrated in the context of central Tractarian concepts. Finally, two implications for a better understanding of the Tractarian ontology will be pointed out.
Keywords: Entailment, Fact, Independence, Non-Fregean Logic, Ontology, Situation, State of Affairs, Suszko, Tractatus, Wittgenstein

Berber, Natan. "A Situational Formal Ontology of the Tractatus." Polish Journal of Philosophy 2.2 (2008): 5-20.
This paper discusses the Boolean algebraic axiomatic system of situations suggested by the Polish logician Roman Suszko (1919-1979). The paper will specifically examine the adequacy of the axioms, definitions and theorems of Suszko's system as a model for Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. It will be shown how the formal properties of Suszko's system – the atomicity and completeness of the Boolean algebraic system – can be employed in order to clarify key concepts of the situational part of the Tractarian ontology. After considering the formal reconstruction of the Tractarian concepts of the world and logical space, a controversial issue pertaining to necessary facts in the Tractatus will be addressed. This will be followed by a formal clarification of the Tractarian concepts of logical place and possible worlds, the latter being identified as combinations of states of affairs, which are, according to the Tractarian ontology, the simplest kinds of situations.

Caws, Peter, "Tractatus 7.1: Translation and Silence," Philosophy Now, special Wittgenstein issue, Issue 58, November/December 2006, pp. 10-12.
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Bond, Steven, Frege and Wittgenstein on Realism, Cogito, IV (1), 2006, pp55-61.
Brief Description:
This paper focus's on Frege's rejection of what he termed Wittgenstein's 'deep grounds for idealism.' It proposes that Frege's inability to understand Wittgenstein on this topic stems from Wittgenstein's inheritance of a Continental, Kantian tradition that has hitherto been reduced to something of an inessential accretion in the secondary scholarship. Frege's account of a realist ontology in 'Der Gedanke' marks him off from the early Wittgenstein, for whom realism is to understood as compatible with idealism. This paper argues that the dominant narrative of Wittgenstein's development, beginning as it does with Tractarian realism, perpetuates the tendency to marginalise the Continental inheritance of the early Wittgenstein.

Bremer, Manuel, Die Welt ist die Gesamtheit der Tatsachen, nicht der Dinge, Grazer Philosophische Studien, 1999, S.111-32.
Abstract: The paper tries to defend an ontological reading of Wittgenstein´s thesis that the world is the totality of facts and is not the totality of things. In the first paragraph some merits of an ontology of facts are considered, e.g. for a substantial correspondence theory of truth. The second paragraph relates the ontological primacy of facts to the semantical primacy of statements. The third paragraph uses the introduction of an ontology of facts to introduce some tools of a logic of situations. And the last paragraph employs facts to solve Lewis` residual problem of singletons in his merelogical reinterpretation of set theory.

Moore Adrian ‘Set Theory, Skolem’s Paradox and the Tractatus’ in Analysis 45, 1985

Moore Adrian ‘Transcendental Idealism in Wittgenstein, and Theories of Meaning’ in The Philosophical Quarterly 35, 1985

Moore Adrian ‘Beauty in the Transcendental Idealism of Kant and Wittgenstein’ in The British Journal of Aesthetics 27, 1987

Moore Adrian ‘On Saying and Showing’ in Philosophy 62, 1987

Moore Adrian ‘What Are These Familiar Words Doing Here?’ in O’Hear, A. (ed.), Logic, Thought and Language, Cambridge University Press, the Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 51, 2002

Moore Adrian ‘Ineffability and Nonsense’ in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supp. Vol. 77, 2003 (with a reply by P. M. Sullivan)

Moore Adrian ‘The Bounds of Sense’, in Philosophical Topics 34, 2006

Moore Adrian ‘Wittgenstein and Transcendental Idealism’ in Kahane, G., Kanterian, E. and Kuusela, O. (eds), Wittgenstein and His Interpreters: Essays in Memory of Gordon Baker, Basil Blackwell, 2007

Moore Adrian ‘Was the Author of the Tractatus a Transcendental Idealist?’, in Potter, M., and Sullivan, P.M. (eds), The Tractatus and its History, Oxford University Press, forthcoming

Moore Adrian ‘Wittgenstein on Infinity’, in McGinn, M. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook on Wittgenstein, Oxford University Press, forthcoming

Moore Adrian ‘Reply to Sullivan’ in Lavery, M. and Read, R. (eds), a volume of essays on the Tractatus, forthcoming

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